PENARTH RFC 1st XV 17pts
FOR the second game running, the Seasiders scored three tries, but this time they had two kickers, not one. Sadly this availed them little as only two points came from the boot - again a conversion under the posts.
It was hard to put your finger on what was wrong with Penarth as the second-placed club faced second from bottom, but they rarely looked as if they believed they could win the game. This was strange as they held the upper hand in the scrum for 80 minutes, but just couldn’t make it count against a youthful Aberdare side staring relegation in the face.
With a stiff breeze at their backs, the Cynon Valley side made all the early running and were 6-0 up inside 20 minutes, even if the second penalty was weirdly inappropriately awarded. Still, although there seemed to be nothing too much to worry about, it was about to get much worse. A Seasiders' attack broke down near the Aberdare 10m line and Mike Hurley unwisely fly-hacked the ball directly to the visitors’ left wing, who had the vision and pace to waltz through a misaligned defence for a 60 metres solo try.
The rest of the half belonged to the hosts, but, despite a couple of tremendous individual breaks by Chris Poole and a lot of time spent in the Aberdare 22, they simply couldn’t make a convincing case for scoring any points and half time arrived with them still trailing 0-13.
The second half was better, even if the hosts struggled to make any real use of the wind. The pack now took matters into their own hands as Richard Ball hurdled over a ruck and was clean through to the line. The Aberdare scrum, creaking all afternoon, was pushed clean off its own put-in and Louis Chandler claimed the try.
The momentum generated by the Penarth eight in the following 10 minutes should have taken them to victory. A lengthy siege in the visitors’ 22 saw a lot of mistakes from both sides and Aberdare tight-head Nathan Terry collecting a yellow card. The pressure told with a series of penalties before referee Aled Evans finally lost patience and awarded the Seasiders a penalty try.
With the score standing at 12-13, the visitors decided to go for broke and threw everything into a furious assault. The Penarth defence, usually so solid, lacked the will to resist and lock Adam Parry crashed over in the corner. Within minutes another series of missed tackles down the left flank saw flanker Owen Young with a clear run-in behind the posts.
With Grant Robson replacing James Docherty and Poole moving inside to outside half for the final 10 minutes, the Seasiders suddenly sprang to life. This new sense of urgency led immediately to a try as the ball was worked wide for James Crothers to score in the corner, but it was far too late and a jubilant Aberdare side celebrated at the final whistle as if they’d won promotion.
This was the last home fixture of the season and Penarth now travel to face runaway league leaders Cardiff Quins on Easter Saturday.
PENARTH: Rhys Morgan, Paul Collett, Chris Poole, Mike Hurley, James Crothers, James Docherty (Grant Robson), Chris Mortimer, Gary Power, Joe Page, Sean O’Sullivan, Richard Ball, Jon Boland, Louis Chandler, Matt Sutton.
National League Division 3 (SE) - Saturday, April 19 - Cardiff Quins v PENARTH (The Diamond Ground, Forest Farm; kick-off 2.30pm).